In the lead-up to the 2020 NFL Draft, Vikings.com is taking a position-by-position look at prospects who have garnered a range of attention from national outlets. The series will include rankings by national outlets, stats and background information for multiple prospects. We'll also include comments that experts shared during interviews.
EAGAN, Minn. — We're almost a week away from the 2020 NFL Draft.
Minnesota currently holds 12 total picks — including the 22nd and 25th overall selections — and is poised to add a handful of young talent to the roster.
Former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber, now a sideline analyst for KFAN 100.3-FM and Vikings Entertainment Network, recently offered up his thoughts on whether or not his old position is an area of need in Minnesota.
Leber noted that while the Vikings might not grab a guy early on, they could always look to add depth in the position room in the later rounds.
"Linebacker should probably not be a high priority for the Vikings in the early rounds," Leber said. "Maybe a possibility in the third [round], but not before because we have two studs already [in Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr] roaming the middle.
"You could always look for that third position to bring some competition in for Ben Gedeon [or Eric Wilson]," Leber added. "But there are some good, quality linebackers who could be out there in the mid-to-late rounds."
Here is a Leber's breakdown of the 2020 class of linebackers.
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah currently has four linebackers in his overall Top 50: 3. Isaiah Simmons, 15. Patrick Queen, 18. Kenneth Murray and 33. Zack Baun.
ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., has three players in his overall Top 25: 4. Simmons, 21. Queen and 23. Murray.
PFF included seven linebackers in its overall Top 100: 7. Simmons , 54. Troy Dye, 56. Akeem Davis-Gaither, 70. Murray, 75. Willie Gay, Jr., 84. Queen and 85. Francis Bernard.
Positional rankings by NFL.com's Bucky Brooks, ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., analytics site Pro Football Focus and The Athletic's Dane Brugler impacted the players listed for this series. Rankings by each are noted under each prospect.
Rankings: No. 1 by Brooks, Brugler and PFF; No. 1 OLB by Kiper
School: Clemson | Year: Redshirt Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt. 238 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded team-high 107 tackles, with 16 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks and 10 pass breakups, three interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 15 starts; won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker; ACC Defensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-ACC selection and a unanimous All-American honoree
Position flexibility: Simmons started his college career as a safety, but switched to linebacker for his final two seasons at Clemson. Some draft experts such as Jeremiah list him as a linebacker/safety, Simmons has the versatility to play either. He usually roamed the middle of the field for Clemson, often playing further away from the line of scrimmage than a typical linebacker.
Rankings: No. 1 ILB by Kiper; No. 2 by Brugler; No. 4 by PFF and Brooks
School: LSU | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot | Wt. 229 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded 85 total tackles, with 12 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, one interception and a fumble recovery in 15 games
Former two-way star: Queen looks to tackle running backs these days, but he played that position and linebacker in high school. He rushed for nearly 3,400 yards at Livonia High School in Louisiana and was also fierce on defense. Queen earned All-State honors as a running back in 2015, then earned All-State honors as a linebacker the following season.
Learnings from Leber: "I like Patrick Queen's makeup a little bit better [than Murray]. The only thing with him is that he only started 16 games in his college career, so he doesn't have a lot of starts under his belt. But man is he twitchy, has really good feet. He seems to play with more instinct than Murray."
Rankings: No. 2 by Brooks and PFF; No. 3 OLB by Kiper; No. 4 by Brugler
School: Wisconsin | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt. 238 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded 76 total tackles, with 19.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception in 14 games; finalist for Butkus Award, also earned First-Team All-Big Ten honors and was a consensus First-Team All-American
Touchdown machine: Baun played quarterback in high school and scored a whopping 94 total touchdowns in 22 career games, with only 67 of them coming on the ground. He was the 2014 Wisconsin Offensive Player of the Year by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association.
Rankings: No. 2 ILB by Kiper; No. 3 by Brooks and Brugler; No. 5 by PFF
School: Oklahoma | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt. 241 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded 102 total tackles, with 17 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks and four passes defended; earned First-Team All-Big 12 honors and was named a Third-Team All-American by the Associated Press.
Early impact: Murray starred for the Sooners right away in 2017 when he was a Freshman All-American, Co-Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and a 14-game starter in his first collegiate season. Murray started 42 career games at Oklahoma and finished with 335 career tackles.
Rankings: No. 5 by Brugler and Brooks, No. 6 by PFF; No. 7 OLB by Kiper
School: Appalachian State | Year: Redshirt Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt. 224 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded 104 tackles, with 14.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, eight pass breakups, one interception and a blocked field goal in 14 starts; Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year; First-Team All-Sun Belt; Fourth-Team All-American honoree by Phil Steele
Winning culture: Davis-Gaither played in 56 total games over five seasons because he played in two games as a freshman before redshirting. Appalachian State went a combined 54-12 with a 5-0 bowl record and four straight conference titles in Davis-Gaither's five seasons with the program.
Learnings from Leber: "A guy that really surprised me. You turn on the tape of this guy … he sorts of fits the role of what college and the NFL is going towards, which is pass-centric and much more playing out in space. He sort of lines up all over the tackle box. … He's often out of the play, and the ball will go across the field, and that dude is making the play. He's truly going sideline to sideline."
Rankings: No. 3 by PFF; No. 5 ILB by Kiper; No. 13 by Brugler
School: Oregon | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt. 231 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded 84 tackles, with 9.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 13 starts; First-Team All-Pac 12 selection; Reese's Senior Bowl participant
Quite the streak: Dye is the only player in Oregon history to lead the team in tackles for four consecutive seasons. He finished third in program history in career tackles (397) and tied for fourth in tackles for loss (44.0).
Rankings: No. 3 ILB by Kiper; No. 7 by Brugler; No. 10 by PFF
School: Texas Tech | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot | Wt. 240 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded 108 tackles, with 20 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in 12 games; First-Team All-Big 12 selection; Second-Team All-American by multiple outlets; invited to Reese's Senior Bowl roster but did not participate due to injury
Four for four: Brooks was named to an All-Big 12 team in each of his four seasons in Lubbock. He was on the First-Team All-Big 12 Freshmen Team in 2016 and was then named to the Honorable Mention All-Big 12 team as a sophomore and junior.
Learnings from Leber: "I've watched a lot of Texas Tech tape and have known about him for a while. The thing I like about him is that he dissects the play really well and sort of bounces his feet, floats around and makes the play. He's got a natural feel for the game and is a true in-the-box player. He didn't seem to have a lot of responsibility and just sort of roamed around … but the talent is definitely there."
Rankings: No. 14 by Brugler
School: Utah | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot | Wt. 234 pounds
2019 stats: Recorded 85 tackles, with 7.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions in 14 starts; First-Team All-Pac 12 selection; Reese's Senior Bowl participant
Football journey: Bernard began his college career at BYU but was dismissed after two seasons. He played junior college football for a season before finishing he career at Utah. Bernard served his LDS mission in Atlanta, Georgia, for two seasons before beginning his football career at BYU.
Learnings from Leber: "Probably the smallest guy on the list. He's a converted running backs, so he's still learning the ins and outs of defense. It's going to take him a little bit longer [to develop], and that kind of shows up on tape more than any other guy I watched. He's very raw."